Caledonia Midlands Community Recognition Award Winners Announced

Caledonia Midlands Community Recognition Award Winners Announced

Following their presentation at Scottish Gas Murrayfield on Saturday 9 March, the 2024 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Award winners for the Caledonia Midlands region have today been announced.

The Community Recognition Awards are Scottish Rugby’s annual domestic game awards programme, focusing on the on and off-field efforts of clubs and schools across Scotland over the course of the season.

Award winners were announced for six categories including; Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby, Young Person’s Award, Community Club of the Season, and the Community Referee of the Season.

Caledonia Midlands Regional Director Chris Pacey said:

“It has another been another successful year for community rugby across the country and specifically in the Midlands. It is important we take the time to say thank you and to celebrate the fantastic impact and achievements of the fantastic network of volunteers that we have supporting rugby in our communities.

“These awards celebrate the fantastic work undertaken individuals by our clubs and schools across the region and I would like to thank this years winners as well as everyone involved in our community game who give up their time to contribute to our fantastic game and create fantastic experiences for all involved”.

Scottish Rugby President, Colin Rigby added:

“As we approach the end of the domestic season, it is really important that we recognise and share our gratitude to the countless volunteers within our sport who make what we do not only possible, but special, fun and enjoyable.

“We again received hundreds of applications to the Community Recognition Awards this year, and although it was a tough job for the Regional Panels to narrow it down to the winners, it shows how many people in Scottish rugby are noticed and appreciated for all they do, and personally, I cannot thank them enough.”

The respective winners are listed below:

Volunteer of the Season in Youth Rugby, sponsored by inspiresport -Victoria Renwick (Howe of Fife RFC)

Victoria is this year’s winner of the Volunteer of the Season in Youth Rugby due to her commitment and drive to succeed. In her role as Women’s Captain and Girl’s Coach, her positivity towards growing the girl’s game at Howe of Fife RFC has been nothing short of exceptional, according to the club.

At her first session, Victoria only had two girls in attendance. Since then, her work to grow the game has been paying off, whereby she currently has 15 girls training regularly as well as several more coming along when they can.

Victoria’s natural people skills have created a real family feeling within the group and have allowed her to build external relationships with other clubs- particularly Glenrothes, to arrange joint training sessions, further enhancing the rugby experience. Being responsible for all girl’s rugby activity from P7-S6, Victoria has been able to tailor her sessions for them to be of maximum benefit to the specific group she is training.

Creating a strong relationship between the youth and adult female teams is something which Victoria values and is always looking to improve. In this aspect she invites youth team girls to join the senior team for a game of touch rugby at the start of their sessions. This is a move which has been commended by both parties and something which she believes is key to keeping girls interested and hungry in the sport.

“Overall, girls youth rugby at Howe has gone from strength to strength since Victoria has taken up her role and as long as she is involved, I can only see it continuing in a positive direction”- Jack Sinclair.


Volunteer of the Season in Adult Rugby- John Grant (Falkirk RFC)

John Grant (‘Jock’) is nearing a half-century with Falkirk RFC, having first become involved with the club in 1975 as a player. Since then, he has taken on several other integral roles in the club’s setup, and according to retired player and coach Walter Linton: “You’d go a long way to find a more reliable and approachable guy”.

John played his last game aged 63, a feat not many players can claim. He played regularly for 20 years in the Falkirk First Team, mainly at either loosehead or tighthead prop, but occasionally at hooker. Into the mid-2000’s he played for the second team, surpassing 40 years’ service on the pitch.

In 1983 Jock took on the position of Fixture Secretary while in the first team. Fast forward 41 years later and he still holds this role with as much pride, while still lending a hand at running the line on a Saturday when needed.

John stepped up to the plate in 2010 to co-coach a squad of challenging S2 boys, which he continued to do until 2018- nearly a decade. In this time, he brought over 20 youth players into senior rugby, including 14 current squad members, and achieved multiple cup triumphs. A year later in 2011, the introduction of new pitches saw Jock take up the role of joint groundsman alongside Bill Arkley. He now assists on all things maintenance, whether it’s lining pitches or DIY work.

Speaking on John’s work, people from across the club praised him:

“Jock is a true Falkirk stalwart. No job to big, no task is too much. Running touch on Saturdays, honest and predominantly positive feedback post-match and of course the incredible effort he puts in around the club. All of the unseen jobs most of us, myself included, aren’t aware of, we are all incredibly thankful for”- Harry Russell- Men’s Captain.

“John Grant, a humble man of very few words but an unbelievable amount of action. Jock is everyone’s go to. You need only ask him for something once and the next time you see him, the job is done. An incredible, loyal servant to Falkirk Rugby”-Kenny Grieve- FRFC Director of Rugby.


Volunteer of the Season in Schools Rugby, sponsored by inspiresport- Ross Ledger (Braes High School)

Ross started building Braes’ rugby setup from nothing when he first arrived eight years ago. Since then, the offering at the Falkirk school has gone from strength to strength, becoming an inclusive opportunity for all age groups across the school. The ‘one squad’ mentality which Ross has worked hard to embed has resulted in participation from students from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Players from other local schools which have no rugby offering have attended Braes’ sessions due to the glowing rugby reputation which has been created.

As well as developing school rugby, Ross has benefitted club rugby in the Falkirk area. He stepped in to coach Grangemouth Stags RFC when club rugby started afresh and created a strong link between the club and its schools cluster. This enabled students to experience a smooth transition from school to club rugby. The local Development Officer insisted “without Ross’s efforts there would no doubt have been losses to club rugby in the area. His hard work has created a developing and exciting group of school and club players”.

Pupils highlighted inclusivity, a motivating environment, constructive feedback and the fact they always learn something new as main reasons why there are such high participation levels at Braes’ rugby sessions.

Pupils and staff alike have commended Ross for his commitment to delivering the rugby programme at Braes. By giving up after school time, weekends, and holidays he is someone the students can always rely on. Ross provides kit and extra events on top of the rugby programme and supports all aspects of student wellbeing. Parents have also been very complimentary towards the impact of Ross’ work on the rugby programme.

One said: “The BHS rugby programme is such a positive and inclusive part of the school. The camaraderie between the boys and girls is something special – everyone feels part of the team, valued by their peers and teachers/coaches.

“I like how inclusive the after-school club is, no pressure to be the best, just to come along and enjoy the game.  My son had never played rugby until he went along to the club. It soon became a constant in his school life where he made friends and understood the true meaning of being part of a team”.


Young Person’s Award- Murrin Thomson (Strathendrick RFC/ Balfron High School)

17-year-old Murrin has been a figurehead pupil when it comes to promoting and enhancing girls’ rugby at both Balfron High School and Strathendrick Rugby Club.

By liaising and engaging with those around her, Murrin has been constantly seeking feedback on how to improve her weekly sessions, which she delivers to S1-S3 boys and girls. These have driven participation numbers up across all age groups within the school. As well as this, she has been central to the school’s involvement in the state school setup, as she coaches teams and helps manage the logistics of playing. Her confidence in managing the S1 boys’ team every Saturday has been acknowledged as has her self-belief and passion to pass on her expertise to the next generation of players.

Murrin is committed to providing equal opportunities across the game, constantly aiming to put women’s rugby in the spotlight. She has driven a rugby response to period poverty, ensuring that sanitary products are readily available for female players within the school and club teams that she is involved in.

Over the last few years, Murrin has used her playing experience to motivate herself to play at the highest possible level, as well as inspire those around her. Her involvement in the Caledonia tour to Belfast proved a valuable experience for Murrin to learn and develop her game from others.

As well as her work with club and school, Murrin has strived to develop rugby relationships in her region as best she can. Working alongside Falkirk RFC and Active Stirling she has thrown herself into new environments, helping to support aspiring rugby players from rural areas and encouraging primary school pupils towards club rugby.

Club numbers this year have meant she has teamed up with Falkirk RFC on game days. Her passion for the game has ensured she has fully embraced this opportunity, flinging herself into a new environment, and being a real leader amongst her new peers.

“Murrin is entrusted to visit primary schools and deliver both curricular and extracurricular activity, all to a very high standard. Further work during health weeks, ensures she provides opportunities for all P1-7 pupils. To help promote pathways from school to club, Murrin plans and assists in the delivery of festivals. She leads a team of ‘Rugby Activators’ providing quality opportunities which provide a positive rugby experience. From volunteering, to playing, coaching to planning, Murrin is a standout candidate”- Steven McCooey.


Community Club of the Season- Bannockburn RFC

Nearly 50 years after it was founded in 1978, Bannockburn RFC continues to serve local players and the community with rugby opportunities and is still striving to improve it’s offering.

Over the course of the last year, the club has liaised with local schools and the community, working alongside Active Stirling and Club Sport Scotland to highlight the benefits, diversity and inclusion of rugby. After running several initiatives to bring local schools together, the club has now formed an official Minis section, providing free rugby and equipment to children from Primary 4-7. The initiatives included the free delivery of rugby to ten schools, reaching over 700 pupils, as well as a one-off tag festival that engaged over 400 primary pupils.

Furthering their work within schools, the club have recently been working with Bannockburn High School to deliver rugby to children with autism. They remain in communication with Disability Sports Scotland about the potential of offering disability rugby.

The Stirling based club have adopted a strategy to grow the number of women within the club. Currently with a 50/50 board split and a 70/30 player base split for men to women, Bannockburn have led seminars on Men as Allies in Empowering Female Leaders in Rugby. The club also endeavour to support charities in their vicinity, raising £500 for Strathcarron Hospice by hosting a fireworks evening. The donation of 200 misspelt bobble hats to local charity shops to sell was not only sustainable but provided the opportunity for local shops to make a profit. It also spread awareness of the club within the local community.

In the affirmative future, Bannockburn RFC will continue their agenda of growing their support to primary age grade rugby and delivering community rugby events with little to no cost to participants.


Community Referee of the Season- Don Burns (Kirkcaldy/ Midlands Referee Society)

Don has been part of the Midlands Referee Society for over forty years, taking on a variety of roles during this time including Secretary, Coaching Co-Ordinator, Vice-President, President, and his current role as Treasurer. He also serves as Treasurer for the Scottish Rugby Referees Association (SRRA), As well as his work for the SRRA, Don is also Treasurer for the Caledonia Referee allocation expenses and in doing so serves all the Caledonia Societies. These are often jobs which fly under the radar but are pivotal to the daily running of clubs and regions alike.

Don has never sought recognition for his work, despite showing incredible commitment to the cause of rugby refereeing. His will to help guide both young and experienced referees has not gone unnoticed in his community, most of which he does unprompted. His background work which he does for refereeing benefits not only the refereeing aspect of the game but the whole game in general.

Rugby in the Caledonia Midlands area has greatly benefitted from Don’s invaluable work.

“Don’s passion for the game is second to none. He works away in the background in many facets of the game for refereeing and at club level. He is always on hand to guide new referees (and the oldies as well) without any invitation. He is quiet and unassuming about what he does for referees and rugby in general”- Ben Evans.

Spread the word

Newsletter Sign-up

Sign-up for our newsletter today to receive the latest updates, content and releases from Scottish Rugby.


Principal Partners